Sunday, December 30, 2007

Raking Leafs and Burning Them, NYR 6, Toronto 1

Poor, poor Toronto.

Of the two coaches representing last night, Toronto Maple Leaf Coach Paul Maurice may be looking for a new job after a slaughtering by our New York Rangers at the ACC in Toronto. NYR Coach Tom Renney should be breathing easy for now. A sold out 19,000+ for this highly televised and anticipated Original Six meeting, the Blueshirts completely dominated the game from start to finish and handed the Leafs another loss this season. In fact, last night's beating was the sixth time the Maple Leafs have allowed five goals or more at home this season. "Hate" or "shame" could be fitting words if you are a Leafs fan this month.

Jaromir Jagr had a goal and three assists while Petr Prucha scored two goals for the Rangers (19-15-4). Blair Betts, Brendan Shanahan and Martin Straka also scored and backup goaltender Stephen Valiquette won in his hometown for the second time this season. Toronto's Darcy Tucker scored the loan goal in the third period and prevented "Valley"'s first NHL shutout.

The New York Rangers could not have played a more focused and terrific game. They scored five power play goals out of ten opportunities (50%, woh!) and played their most confident and disciplined game seen this season thus far. Everyone raised the bar last night: Jagr, Shanahan, Gomez, Drury, Betts, Valiquette & ......Tom Renney? Effective line changes, Captain Jagr diverting the Leafs defense, and the team aggressively taking the puck to the net gave them the win. There were less defensive turnovers than usual and even Marek Malik looked to be playing a fairly decent game.

One noteworthy word of the night......Prucha!

On paper, the Toronto Maple Leafs has one of the strongest defensive lines in the League -- or for that matter, maybe just the most expensive defensive ones. Giving the Blueshirts ten power plays was just irresponsible and they demonstrated some of the worst penalty killing ever seen. They literally allowed the Rangers to continuously take shots until we scored on them. The Dark Ranger hasn't seen such sub-par play since the Rangers lost to Atlanta or Phoenix!!?

The 'audience anticipated' Sean Avery/Darcy Tucker event never occurred, but an even fight between Colton Orr & Wade Belak kept the fight-hungry fans wanting more. Unless you were a Rangers fan in Toronto, everyone in the Air Canada Centre had to have been silenced & embarrassed by Andrew Raycroft's (pretending goalkeeper for the Leafs) performance. He was just plain awful. Dump him Toronto.

It was a solid game of hockey and I am thrilled by it. More telling will be how the Rangers can turn the Carolina beating and this 'confidence boosting' Toronto slaughter into another solid game against the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow. A 'win' tomorrow could be the long awaited turnaround we've all been hoping for.

Let's go Rangers and well done. We are proud to be Blue.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tucker Him Out, Sean!

Best of luck to you, Blueshirt Sean Avery, as our well-loved pest takes to the ice this evening at the ACC in Toronto to revive one of the more interesting player-to-player rivalries in the NHL this season. Darcy Tucker of the Maple Leafs will again attempt to maintain his 'bad boy of the NHL' title this evening as the "hating hockey-loving Canadians" Sean Avery rolls into town. Oh, and by the way, the Toronto Maple Leafs are hosting The New York Rangers tonight as well.

Below is a post by Tim Bontemps of the NY Post:
December 29, 2007 -- Ranger Sean Avery returns to Toronto tonight as Public Enemy No. 1 - for his Nov. 10 pregame fight with Darcy Tucker the last time the Rangers visited the Leafs, but also for his reputation as a world-class instigator. But while Avery's reputation as a pest precedes him league-wide, Ranger captain Jaromir Jagr takes a different view.

"The way he acts, the way he is, the way he plays the game, the way he likes to talk to people, that's what makes him, and he kind of likes that," Jagr said after practice yesterday.
"But I think hurting him the other way is people kind of forgetting how good a hockey player he is."

Jagr admitted he shared the same general opinion before Avery arrived from the Kings last season. But it only took watching Avery in one practice for Jagr to realize he wasn't a typical instigator. That's the thing . . . when people play that way, most of the time there's no other way to play for them," he said. "Most of the guys, I would say 99 percent [of] people [who] play his way, they're not able to play another way. If you don't find out how good he is, you put him on the fourth line.

While the Avery story is the headline heading into tonight, Ranger coach Tom Renney doesn't expect any problems or distractions because of it. "No, it's been dealt with," Renney said. "Sean knows the value of two points, and our team is starting to play well on a more consistent basis, and I don't think he's got an agenda otherwise.

As lifelong Rangers fans, we are behind you Sean Avery! Kick some Toronto ass tonight and show them what a true world-class hockey player is all about.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy Boxing Day, Rangers 4, Hurricanes 2

There was more to the evening than Ranger's Colton Orr checking Matt Cullen across the face and the return of Sean Avery's antics (major and minor punishments galore) in this special, magical time of year.

Knowing young Tom Renney wanted nothing more than to beat a Red and White Rider Pump carbine action, five-hundred range model hockey team, he was told pre-game there was one more present behind the wish tree. Suspiciously, he didn't change anything in his lineup and still got want he wanted. A win. Spoiled kid.

Jagr broke out with two tallies (you heard that right!) and Brendan Shanahan set up a pair of third-period power-play goals to help the New York Rangers beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 on Wednesday night. Chris Drury and Dan Girardi also scored for the Rangers, who snapped a three-game losing streak, winning for only the third time in the last 11 games. Official recap

The Rangers were at it again, a defense-first minded team and stuck with their guns. Although there were sloppy turnovers in the first period, the team was generally solid - crashing the net and outshooting Carolina 2 to 1 throughout the game. In fact, 'one-game rejuvenated' Captain Jaromir Jagr scored his first goal of the evening by planting himself on the far-end of Hurricane Cam Ward's net - a Euro-Dirty-Goal. Congrats to our Jagr for playing hockey on the boards, as opposed to playing European style. Whether it was Tom Renney, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Drury or Dancing Grandma, Jagr took his lead from someone and we are all grateful. Forgive my repetitiveness, but a "don't get my fingernails dirty" A-level player like Jaromir Jagr does not crash the net, so it was refreshing to see.

Marek Malik started the game and did a decent job. Marc Staal and Dan Girardi continue to amaze Blueshirt fans -- this youthful depth will only benefit the NYR franchise this year and seasons to come, or until Slats trades them this February for an aging potential Columbus Blue Jacket veteran?

Joking aside, rumor has it that the Blueshirts are trying to pry either veteran Adam Foote or top-four defenseman Rostislav Klesla from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Petr Prucha. Some of our young'ens may be thrown into the deal -- none of us like the sound of this. Just for fun, throw in Malik & Hossa for 'shits & giggles'....we triple dare you Slats.

According to Larry Brooks of the
NY Post, "...The 36-year-old Foote, a physical presence the Rangers so obviously lack on the blue line, is on the final year of a three-year contract at $4.6M per that contains a no-trade clause he would have to waive in order to come to New York. If willing, the two-time Cup-winner with Colorado will become one of the prime rentals on the market as the Feb. 26 deadline approaches. Hence, the Rangers' attempt for a pre-emptive strike. Klesla, the multi-dimensional fourth-overall selection in the 2000 Entry Draft who will turn 26 in March, is under contract through the 2009-10 season at $1.6M per. "

Though teams are frozen through the New Year, we can expect some major trades throughout the NHL come January and February. The Blueshirts will be dumping some of our assets to strengthen that blueline. We all knew this last summer; we just didn't realize how valuable such rookies as Staal and Girardi would be and how they need to remain on this team. So here lies the mystery. (CORRECTION: Will anyone take Malik and how much of that salary will the Rangers continue to pay? - As pointed out by Scotty Hockey, this is no longer allowed as part of the collective NHL salary capping. Players can trade at the full salary only.)

The Dark Ranger feels that management is finally addressing some of the depth problems with the team, and in the end, the Blueshirts are already ahead of where we were last season -- and the 'fire-power' on paper is still an improvement. So optimistically, this looks good and as long as the brass upstairs is continually improving the team, we have to jump on the bandwagon and support the team. As long as we play solid 'last-night knock-em-down-Carolina Hurricane hockey' throughout the season, we are a 'shoe-in.'

The next five games are all against Canadian franchises and we begin the trek with the Toronto Maple Leafs this Saturday night at the legendary A.C.C. in Toronto where tickets are not accessible and 'standing-room only in the rafter passes' goes for $125 a pop. Prepare for a revival of the most-famous
Sean Avery/Darcy Tucker meeting -- tickets for that alone are sold-out and the potential pre-warmup alley fight will be available on pay-per-view, so watch for the agitation, check in with The Dark Ranger - more entertaining on a Saturday night than Die Hard 4!


Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays Rangers Fans! Rangers 1, Senators 3

The first period on last night's meeting between the Blueshirts and the Ottawa Senators was solid hockey. Scottie Gomez scored the first goal half way through, and even though speed-demon Jason Spezza scored for Ottawa toward the end of the first period, it appeared our Rangers were tired of the embarrassment and ready to play after a humiliating game against the Minnesota Wild and the OT loss to the Avs all in the same week.

Well, everything fell apart. After a strong first period, the Rangers seemed to magically lose energy, perhaps showing the effects of playing for the fifth time in eight days. Maybe Tom Renney gave them a few motivational tips during the intermission!!? In the end, the Rangers have won only two games in the last ten. Recap

The second and third periods, Ottawa proceeded to score twice and shutdown the Garden chants. Senator's Shean Donovan moved up and around Ranger's Marc Staal, forced to dive on his stomach to deny Donovan's progress after his stick broke, and got a shot in on Blueshirt Henrik Lundqvist. The rebound popped out above the crease to Kelly, who shovelled in his seventh goal to make it 2-1 with 7:44 left in the second period. Ottawa's Mike Fisher made it 3-1 when his shot from the right point, after a turnover by New York's Chris Drury, hit Rangers defenceman Marc Staal and caromed in at 9:08 of the third period. Game over.

Ryan Hollweg seemed to be the only player on the ice last night after the first period. He was appropriately forechecking, taking advantage of turnovers, shooting the puck, throwing himself into the stars to Ryan! First time I've ever said that, as I have never understood why Hollweg was essential to the team....until last night. Irony.

To prevent myself from tirelessly repeating the same critiques and comments about our beloved Rangers, I thought I'd give you the most accurate description of last night's performance:

Jaromir Jagr - blah.
Chris Drury - blah.
Brendan Shanahan - who?
Tom Renney - eh?
Malik - yuk.
Hossa - benched, yeah!
Lundqvist - sorry buddy

So with that Ranger's fans, I do think things will turn around in the New Year. One of my New Year's resolutions is for the New York Rangers to start winning games again - and I do believe Tom Renney will not hold a place on this team after February - 'the shake up is near' because things are not getting better.
Happy holidays to all and happy hockey to all!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Would you bet money on tonight's Blueshirts vs. Senators match?

Vegas has the odds 1-5 that the Rangers will win tonight, whereas is picking the New York Rangers to beat the Ottawa Senators +105. So it appears 'all bets are off' as the experts willing to put their 'hard-earned dollars' are unsure of which direction tonight's meeting will go. One thing is for certain. The Rangers need this one at home badly and I'd pay a lot of money for them to win - if that was possible. What do you think this is, basketball?

New York (17-14-4) did win the teams' most recent meeting - 5-2 at Ottawa on Dec. 1 - ending a five-game overall slide against the Senators. The Rangers are a paltry 2-5-2 since, though, having allowed at least four goals in each of the seven losses. Keep in mind, the Senators have won four straight at MSG since losing 5-1 to the Rangers on Feb 8, 2006 against the home crowd and Ottawa is 11-3-2 on the road this season, and can match San Jose's NHL-best 12-3-2 road record with a win tonight.

Both teams should be passionate tonight for different reasons - which should make for a good game, that is, unless our captain and coach actually show up. Considering everything we have, what can we count on tonight without question? We know the young'ens will be out there hammering away and Sean Avery will not be in section 404 eating hot dogs and cursing the Senators as he will finally play. We know Petr Prucha will absorb three or four major hits by Ottawa without retaliation. It's possible Hossa - playing tonight - will wrongfully channel his older brother leading to, at least, two turnovers. Brendan Shanahan will question the refs at least three times and quote to the press afterwards on 'how we take too many hits and nothing goes our way.'

So pessimism aside, may we see a winning team tonight. A team that plays to win, wants to win, and believes in the spirit of the home crowd. It's time we get out of this slump and win the hearts of the fans. Beating the Eastern Conference leader (again) would be a great asset to keeping the people believing.

Let's go Rangers! Lastly, my money is behind the Rangers taking the Senators 4 to 2. Quote me on it.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Battle Of The Goalkeepers, Rangers 3, Avalanche 4 OT

The Rangers can't hold a lead. We lose again. Recap here.

There is no question that tonight's meeting with the New York Rangers and the Colorado Avalanche was a nail-biter. No, it wasn't the offensive prowess of either of the teams. No, it wasn't the brilliant defense either.

There were two reasons - NYR goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist & Colorado Avalanche Peter Budaj. Simply stated, Henrik kept NYR in the game. Budaj made major saves. The game was about goaltending - ultimately leaning toward the west.

So back to RangerBlue reality, that leaves us with two wins in the last nine games. Let us ponder. The Blueshirts had one of the top defensive NHL records about a month ago, with the least amount of goals per average in the league and best save percentages by King Lundqvist, while simultaneously registering the 'least shot attempts in the NHL.' Our rookie defense made up for all of our offensive struggles. Even still, we were winning games by containment, not by winning goals.

With our two front lines recently clicking with Gomez between Straka and Jagr, and Drury moving forward to the second line, we are finally scoring goals... a lot of them. The newly missing link is our strength on 'D' ; it is falling apart before our eyes. Who's karma is granting us such events? The Jagr good years? Calling Sean Avery a nuisance? The Nylander Curse?

There isn't more to say that hasn't been said, which in itself is disappointing enough. It was a good game to watch - high scoring, Ranger turnovers that Henrik brilliantly saved, but ultimately it ended with another loss. Tonight was not about good/bad coaching, the Captain, etc., this was more about equal play leading to OT, gaining a point and losing the game to the Avs taking advantage of a dead-center loose puck. F**K ME! God Da***t, Mother Frackin' Sons a B*tch*s, STUPID F****N COACH, INVISIBLE CAPTAIN.....Why Lord? Why Slats? 2 Wins in 9 games? Who are we, The Knicks?..........

So we'll take the point & take the 'high road' and wish our Western Conference Brethren a proud New Yorker middle finger. Take your solid, discipline hockey system and shove it. Or even better yet, take it to the Garden. We'll prove to ya'll that Denver aint no place to watch hockey. Sigh.


Minnesota Flats, Rangers 3, Wild 6

'He was banking 'em in out of the air, scoring on breakaways, skating through everybody with it, making highlight-film goals.' Guess what, folks - I 'aint talking about Jaromir Jagr either.

Minnesota Wild's Marian Gaborik showed The New York Rangers how to play hockey last night scoring five of the six Minnesota goals, plus an assist scoring a total of six points against our Blueshirts. Sergei Fedorov did it for Detroit on Dec. 26, 1996, in an overtime game against Washington. Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux was the last to net five in regulation, on March 26, 1996, versus St. Louis.

Official recap

A big loss for the Rangers as this was the first game of their West Coast roadtrip, one that many believe will determine Coach Tom Renney's fate. Post game, Renney again defended the Blueshirts in the game they played and was quoted as saying he "wouldn't have done anything differently" about last night's game against the subtley slaughtering Wild. He "felt cheated by the officials after unsportsmanlike conduct penalties...which led to goals from Gaborik and Pierre-Marc Bouchard."

Okay. This is 'poo-poo' talk. The outrageousness Gaborik scoring binge was determined by simple mistakes in our team system - sometimes referred to as 'bad defense' - though our NYR defending coach would never suggest any weakness in his team. Jagr should receive some type of anti-award for not being able to clear the puck one-on-one in our own zone, which led to a goal, the runner-up to this award should be Chris Drury. Four of the first five goals were avoidable if New York simply played a tighter game. Lundqvist was awful. Gomez was fast as always - I do like him on the first line - and the improved power play squad may be finding some 'juice' as well.

Though a strange game and loss, I have to declare three-cheers for the following players: Petr Prucha (God bless the little-man who takes hits like a champ), Dan Girardi (a rising star) and Marc Staal (like his brothers, but a better asset). I'll actually say it here, I am beginning to enjoy the speed of Scott Gomez and think he will rise out of this coaching and captain mess - like everyone declared, he will find himself in this team.

So on to another tough Western contender, the Colorado Avalanche - tonight at 9pm EST on the MSGnetwork - comments to follow. Let's go Rangers!!!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Henrik (Blanks) Cynthia Crosby, 4-0

Well, it was a sign from the heavens - Jagr smiling throughout the game, Scott Gomez moved to the first line between Straka and Jags, Chris Drury was moved forward to center the second line with Shanahan, the fourth line of Betts-Hollweg-Orr literally disengaged Sydney (a.k.a Cynthia, at least last night) Crosby, and goalkeeper extraordinaire 'King' Henrik Lundqvist turned all Penguin shots to irrelevance blocking eighteen attempts, the first shutout of the season for the Penguins. The slumping Rangers won 4-0.

Tom Renney finally played the All-Stars with the other All-Stars and let the kids dominate the third line, the fourth line to shutdown Crosby. It worked. This was the original plan from day-one. Last night it worked, and Scott Gomez (probably upset that he didn't make the hat-trick those last 30 seconds) actually looked like he belonged on the team -- for the first time.

Our defense kept the Penguins on the perimeter in our own zone -- our system worked last night -- and this limited the number of Penguin shots on goal. There were less than eight Pittsburgh shots during the first and second period due to a 'brick wall' of Dan Girardi and Marc Staal. Malik and Hossa were scratched - good coaach. Well done, boys. It was a strong game and I was a proud fan after such a display.

Don't get too excited.

Pittsburgh's alternate goalie Dany Sabourin was terrible in goal, replacing Marc Andre-Fleury, who will be out for over four weeks recovering, and not a good sign for the ailing Pittsburgh Penguins. I would like to proclaim "We've Rebounded" or "The Rangers Are Back", but our power play still sucks. Though more productive last night, it wasn't until Jagr charged the net on the power play that we saw some action. A foreshadow of hope.

The next three games will most challenge what the papers today are calling the "Rangers' Renaissance" based on last night's line changes. Minnesota, Colorado & Ottawa - a three-pack punch, all first-rate teams ready to deflate the Blueshirts. Look toward Vancouver's destruction of the Newark Devils last evening (Canucks 5, Devils 0) as an example of how the Western Conference plays a more stable and more discipline type of game - as opposed to our Eastern Conference scrappers. Sloppy play and laziness are punished by those Westerners, which ultimately, should make for some exciting hockey.

Keep smiling Jags, keep believing Rangers fans and be sure to check-in for new updates on our "improved team". Yee haw.


Monday, December 17, 2007

The Sinking Ship, Rangers 1, Coyotes 5

Yesterday, The New York Rangers were beaten badly by the Phoenix Coyotes. Wayne Gretsky appearing as coach of the Coyotes again demonstrated to 'the most famous arena in the world' that his skills (now as coach) were top-notch, despite his suffering from the flu, unable to speak. One thing was for certain, Phoenix arrived at The Garden, having beaten the Newark Devils the day before, with a belief that they can win. That they did. They slaughtered.

I held myself back from the typical Dark Ranger 'love/hate analysis' because so many others hold parallel views of our tragedy named The New York Rangers, but here's a brief summary. The coach is bad. The captain is bad. The offense is bad. And now, our defense is stinky. The combination of all of these, leaves us with an outstanding goalkeeper, Henrik Lundqvist - who was (strangely) dressed as a backup to Stephen Valiquette's on-ice massacre at The Garden of Hopes & Dreams. Poor Vally, the game wasn't his fault. Strange bounces led to the first couple of goals, but then all was lost due to everything! The only player who always looked ready to play was our once-resident enforcer, Ryan Hollweg, oddly benched by Coach Tom Renney yesterday to motivate his level of play. Strange coaching methods, I must say.

I am not alone in my desire to have a winning team. My criticism of Tom Renney as coach, Jaromir Jagr as Captain, and the defensive system by which the Rangers are losing more than winning, is a means to a better team and system. The third worst team in the NHL, the Phoenix Coyotes, with an average age of 26 years old on the entire team, came into the Garden and destroyed an All-Star team because of a solid system, a willingness and want to give it "their all' and a damn-good coach to boot. There is no better an example of how the basics win games.

But enough of me, may I present my fellow Blueshirt Bloggers. Without them, I would be an enigma. Anyone should start with Scotty Hockey who cautiously outlines a dwindling Coach Renney; when he's not transforming himself into 'hockey dancing elves', I highly recommend the Ranger Pundit, whose dubbing Tom Renney 'Coach Clueless' points out that there is no short-term solution to our proud players in Blue; Dubi of the definitive and always objective Blueshirt Bulletin has a rare slamming of the team (this NEVER happens), which means it's a cold day in hockey-hell, folks; Larry Brooks of the Post in his 'Coyote Ugly' piece; John Dellapina of The Blueshirts Blog with Tom Renney stating post-game that his team has lost their confidence asks "How is it possible that a team with two 600-goal scorers, two other guys who have won Stanley Cups and a goalie who has been a Vezina Trophy finalist in both of his first two seasons is playing with absolutely no confidence?"; and lastly Pucks On Broadway leaves us with the inevitable question, "Where do we go from here?"

I need nothing more than to find support amongst my fellow bloggers. We all feel the same way. The fans all feel it. I wonder what the owners & Glen Sather are feeling right about now?


Friday, December 14, 2007

Old Time Hockey Revisited - Part I

Just when you thought the NHL and Commissioner Bettman had cleaned up the game, there is that rare moment of 'grit' that satisfies your love of professional hockey and makes you leap out of your seat, your heart pounding for "more....more....more".

This video is one of those rare moments. Enjoy and kick some hockey ass! tdr

The Great One Returns

No, not you Jaromir. Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky is coming back.

The former 'Blueshirt Michael Jordan of Hockey' will be returning to MSG for the first time this Sunday as coach of the losing Phoenix Coyotes (13-16-0), and this time, the lagging New York Rangers (16-12-3) hope to 'kick his ass' and finally bury the post 1995 years for good.

As a New York Ranger in the 1990's, Wayne Gretzky was not the player he used to be, but the Great One was still the one to watch. His play was pure Picasso. "How can you stop a guy who disappears on you?" former Flyers coach Wayne Cashman says. "You don't. You just hope for the best. I saw him in a game once where a huge defenseman was going to put the biggest hit in the world on him. You know what Gretzky did? He passed the guy the puck. He was so surprised it stopped him in his tracks. Then Gretzky flipped up the guy's stick, took the puck, went right around him--and was gone!"

May his coaching skills be less than his play.

Regarding our game Sunday, the good news is that Marcel Hossa is out with the flu and will not play against Phoenix. The bad news is it appears our PIM-heavy "Ranger Savior" Sean Avery also will not be in the lineup on Sunday (maybe Tues vs. Pittsburgh, but definite on Thurs vs. Minn). Ranger Coach Tom Renney is seeing red these days and management will be paying close attention to how the Blueshirts will attack the game against one of the worst in the league. Last evening the Islanders easily beat the Coyotes, the New Jersey Devils of Newark will play at 1pm against them tomorrow and the tired team will play against NYR on Sunday, giving the Blueshirts the advantage they need to rebound. The Rangers have dropped three in a row, four out of five, but somehow are second in the Atlantic Division - two points behind NJ.

To all that have suggested in comments and emails, I agree with you. CHRIS DRURY SHOULD BE ON THE FIRST LINE. This is all a matter of 'when', as opposed to 'if'. Our newly acquired 'clutch-man' is a more consistent center than Brandon Dubinsky and will adapt to Jaromir Jagr and Straka if our coach actually gives a damn. There are no other choices on this issue. IT IS TIME, RENNEY!!!! Take care of business or I'll get the Ranger Pundit all over your mess!

As to Gretzky, we wish you well in the beginning of the game & we celebrate your achievements as one of the best hockey players ever. We salute and honor you.

Though, we hope you are a terrible coach and have an emotionally devastating trip back to the desert after a tragic loss to your former New York Rangers.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sean Avery, The Child

I am not interested in cursing the name of a top-needed New York Ranger, Sean Avery, but for a moment let me point out that I randomly bumped into a strange website entitled Kids Prefer Cheese and the cover picture soooo reminded me of Sean Avery as a kid.

Nothing more than that. A funny contemplation.

Tom Renney Coaching 'Bad Ice', Rangers 4, Caps 5 OT

Oy. The Dark Ranger is getting tired of this.

Maybe New York Rangers Coach Tom Renney will have something to teach his professional hockey players this afternoon, after the Blueshirts lost to the Washington Capital 5-4 in overtime last evening. "We didn't show a lot of poise and we didn't show a lot of maturity," said Renney, whose team blew a 2-0, first-period lead and is 1-3-1 in the last five and 4-5-2 in the last 11. "We got the lead, and we got comfortable. "

Way to go coach! Full game recap
here. Fellow "questioning our coach" bloggers here, here, here.

Last night reminded me of our first meeting with Atlanta this season -- a display of horrible leadership (coach and players) and team effort. The brain-dead Rangers have dropped four of the last five games, the one win against New Jersey now feels more of a fluke than a win. The opening first period welcomed two unexpected Rangers goals by Scotty Gomez and Martin Straka holding the lead at 2-0, but two minutes later answered by the Capital's Joe Motzko scoring, ended the period 2-1.

The first intermission was a time of answering the breakdowns in the first period, the lack of cross-checking and maintaining lines, a reflection of playing smart hockey -- a good coach makes the team hopeful, smart and decisive. Well f**k me!

The second period brought forward a wave of Washington Capitals, outshooting the Rangers 10-0, the antithesis of forward motion and our defensive system. The Blueshirts looked disorganized, barely focused and slow, until Washington rookie Joe Motzko scored again - his first two goals of the entire season (a rookie playing for the worst team in the NHL scoring on the best goalkeeper in the league). Now we looked just plain bad. Hhhmm. The last period, the Big "O"vechkin scored, followed by another unexpected wave of New York Ranger offense -- Straka scoring his second goal, Brendan Shanahan lighting it up to tie the game 4-4 and heading into overtime. Point taken.....then.....

...the trip on 'bad ice'.

With only a minute and a half left in overtime, heading toward the shootout (Go Henrik!) Ranger's Chris Drury sent a beautiful cross-ice pass in the Capital's zone to Brendan Shanahan. Shanny's skate buckled underneath him, he tripped and fell leaving the puck wide open "alone and looking for love in all the wrong places." Capitals Defense saw the turnover opportunity and proceeded to two-on-one Henrik Lundquist letting in the winning goal by Capital's Mike Green.

"I'm not sure if I'm disturbed or perturbed. We just weren't very smart," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "I thought we handled the puck poorly, we managed it poorly, we had disjointed line changes, we had defencemen caught out for two-minute shifts because we couldn't get out of our own end."

So Rangers fans, aside from the "Mystery of the Disappearing Power Play Unit", I leave one more question to ponder after another hideous loss, "Where was Tom Renney in all of this?"


Monday, December 10, 2007

Shanny Delivers In OT Win, Rangers 1, Devils 0

Full recap here.
(short & sweet) tdr

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Game Sure Has Changed

I will be posting later my take on The New York Rangers win in OT against our rival New Jersey Devils in OT (thanks Shanny)this afternoon.

I was reflecting on fdarangers - who in the comments section included some clips of the flyers vs. rangers fights. I found the following clip and it is remarkable how much the new rules over the last five years have improved the game.

This fight is brutal (pre-season as well) and would absolutely set the tone for a season of fights to come.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Renney In The Hot Seat, Rangers 2, Thrashers 4

After the Rangers swept the Thrashers in the first round of the playoffs last season, Atlanta coach Bob Hartley had a short leash to start this season, and he was fired after an 0-6 start. The Thrashers are 14-7-1 under general manager and interim coach Don Waddell, including two wins over the Rangers.

Never un
derestimate the momentum of three big losses. The New York Rangers lost 4-2 to the Atlanta Thrashers last night for the third loss in a row. A potential loss tomorrow against the red-hot NJ Devils, having won every contest against them this season, could create an unstoppable downward spiral. Hate to say it again, Coach Renney is in trouble.

Henrik Lundqvist sat out last night, replaced by Stephen Valiquette - who I still feel played an adequate game, though without any team support he was overwhelmed by on onslaught of offensive Atlanta thrashing. If Henrik sits out against tomorrow -- all is lost -- because this means Tom Renney has lost confidence in his goalie. It doesn't matter if Henrik has lost his confidence -- a good coach instills confidence in his players.

NYR General Manager Glen Sather fully expects Tom Renney to exploit his new purchases this season -- the speed demon Scott Gomez, the clutch-man Chris Drury -- and the All-Stars that make this team such an attractive franchise on paper - Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan, Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Straka, one of People Magazine's sexiest "we love to hate"....of course, he needs no introduction. The philosophy that these players cannot connect is ludicrous and insulting. Coaching makes the match. Dubie on the first line with Straka and Jagr? Heaven's to Betsy.

I continue to be a huge supporter of Dan Girardi and Marc Staal - and even with Marek Malik sitting out last night - it is apparent we do not have the blueline this team needs. Duh. I am back on my pre-season vow to trade for that much needed "D-Man." Scotty Hockey does a convincing "what if" Schneider from the Anaheim Ducks wants to be a Ranger (I agree, Scotty, but he completely injury prone), though, with Sather & gang vs. The Salary Cap precedent - there is minimal room to consider it.

The losses hurt less the more pathetic the Rangers get, so I'll leave with "there are plenty more games in the season", but a shake-up is required to find or motivate that All-Star chemistry we all bought into. Someone can do it. A good coach can do it.

My fellow BlueBlogger "coach-disappointed" Ranger Pundit feels Tom 'Coach Clueless' Renney is not up for the job and I may soon be jumping on that bandwagon. Let's see after tomorrow's meeting.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Uncle Junior Properly Sings "O'Canada", Rangers 2, Toronto 6

The opening of tonight's Original Six matchup against The New York Rangers and Toronto Leafs began with Dominic Chianese, the actor who played Junior Soprano, singing both the Canadian and American anthems. "O'Canada" was sung with gusto, strength and determination. "The Star Spangled Banner" felt scrappy & forgetful, more like his character on The Sopranos, and as the crescendo "...and the land of the free...." was approaching, he went for the high note. Like Peter Brady's puberty changing voice, Junior's tone flipped back and forth and he lost it. A shameful rendition. No recovery.

And thus the story of the Rangers tonight losing 6-2 to the Leafs, except they never even attempted the high note. Recap

A bad game indeed - the second of the week, tonight being the worst of them. For the first time this season, I can safely say that Henrik Lundqvist was awful. A terrible week for our starless goalkeeper. Tonight he let through four goals of ten Leaf shots and was replaced by Stephen Valiquette to open the third period. Stephen's performance was stellar at first, but our broken defense and non-existent lines were no match for a Toronto onslaught. Two more goals later -- the Garden Numb exited feeling deflated and questioning our supposed rebound from Monday's Carolina hangover.

I know, I know - it's just another game and they'll come out of the slump. The difference between this season versus the previous two seasons is there are no middle ground wins or losses. We only get one of two teams showing up: 1. the really good team or 2. The really bad one. Good hockey brings a satisfaction, a crave to watch more and be present when you have the opportunity to throw your hat on the ice, cheer in a good body check and honor those you choose to follow. I am satisfied with a great game of hockey, win or loss, and an extraordinary fan of my Blueshirts, but come to think of it - I cannot remember experiencing this type of game this season yet. I don't like it one bit, and I will admit I cannot put my finger on it. Bad coaching? Bad leadership? Bad management? Marek Malik? Marcel Hossa? Strudwick? Free agents? A little of all the above?

My fellow Ranger loyalist - Captain Martin - joined me for the game tonight and we both agreed this is a season of unknown. That 'shoe-in' slot for the playoffs is a long way off - and every team in the Atlantic Division is improving steadily, each getting their game together. The Rangers are the equivalent of today's S&P500, no consistency with scary dips and rebounds every week.

The competitive truth is the "best to the worst" in the Atlantic Division is only a two-win difference.

The Rangers are in Atlanta Thrasher Land tomorrow night, so hold your breath, pull a tooth out and place it under your pillow - and make a wish. "Dear Lord (Stanley), please make sure Gomez skates the same speed as his fellow players and that Coach Tom Renney has read The Art of War at least once."

Which team do you think will show up in Atlanta tomorrow night?


Monday, December 3, 2007

"Cam" You F****ing Believe It? Rangers 0, Hurricanes 4

The Atlantic Division first place New York Rangers dropped a bomb on the fans tonight at MSG as they were shutout by Carolina Hurricanes' goalkeeper Cam Ward, 4-0. Our "Hyde Blueshirts" showed up this evening, the coach wasn't present and once again the All-Stars this time left the rookies to arrive on ice and play a poor game of hockey. Here is an official recap because I don't have the patience to cover the basics after sitting next to my 'Canes-fan-friend through this tragedy at The Garden.

Where to begin? The guy next to me halfway through the second period screamed "THROW YOUR PURSE AT HIM, MALIK!!!!" which, somewhat, explains where the evening began. Not that Malik was responsible for the loss tonight - he wasn't, but the skating two-by-four (a.k.a. "Lurch") was non-present and looked bored and/or injured. Just as we witnessed in Ottawa on Saturday, Malik mishandled the puck everytime he was near it, a scared girl terrified of analyzing where he might pass it, but instead choosing to hit it as hard as he can just to clear it. I blame Marek Malik for setting the tone. Get him off my team.

His first fumble led to a turnover of the night and the first Carolina goal on Henrik Lunqvist - an unstoppable goal. The second goal on NYR, on a defensive turnover, could not have been stopped. The first period showed a complete breakdown of the system, no leadership, players not communicating to each other, non-present veterans, newbies turning over pivotal plays and no coaching. A really bad game overall.

The last Carolina goal is symbolic of our Blueshirt team philosophy, one that continues to be built around Jaromir Jagr. One example of this came toward the end of a shift in the third period when the Rangers were down 3-0, Jagr set up a play and broke his stick. Unable to continue playing as the point person on the shift, the entire Ranger defense line froze - youth unable to comprehend what to do next - and the undefended loose puck, frozen in time, sat for David Tanabe at his own blueline to carry it forward to score on Henrik Lunqvist to finally end the hope.


Jagr, Shanny, Gomez & Drury were once again invisble. They must have read in the papers and The Dark Ranger's blog how they are finally getting it together and the chemistry they have been seeking all season has arrived at last. Not even a point tonight and I doubt there were even any valuable fantasy hockey pool PIMs or PPPs to count on.... Not even Colton Orr or Ryan Hollweg dropped a glove.

A boring loss at that.


Matt Cullen Returns Tonight!

Tonight's Game

The Rangers face off against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.). At 15-9-2, the Blueshirts currently sit atop the Atlantic Division and rank second in the Eastern Conference with 32 points. The Hurricanes, 14-10-3, currently sit atop the Southeast Division with 31 points and have lost six of their last nine contests.

TV: MSG. Radio: 1050 ESPN New York


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Hail, Marek Malik!

Now that I have your attention, prepare for the oncoming 'hail storm' now that Malik is back in the lineup. The first couple of minutes of the New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators this afternoon were scary, the 'tall-one' turned over one play to Jason Spezza and a bad pass three minutes into the first period. A foreshadow of what was ahead.

Wrong. New York beat Ottawa 5-2. With the win, the Rangers moved a game behind Ottawa for the conference lead & first place in the Atlantic Division.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves for his league-leading 14th win; he has held opponents to two or fewer goals in 17 of 24 games this season. Brendan Shanahan placed two goals on the board, with Jaromir Jagr, Dan Girardi and Blair Betts also scoring for New York, before Joe Corvo and Dany Heatley scored for Ottawa in the last period.

This afternoon we saw the repeat performance of the New York Rangers that we expect to see -- offensive muscle that shoots the puck often & the Renney defense system that has worked most of the time (and never forget, The King). The combo of both is a winning team model, which is what the Rangers demonstrated today against Ottawa and the Islanders on Thursday. The Senators were stunned the entire game and never had controlled possession. The Ottawaiin' Corvo & Heatley goals were let in by a team that was up 4-0 through the second period - 'let 'em have them' goals, we will call them.

If we can expect this level of game for half of the season, all Rangers fans will be pleased - the playoffs will be a 'shoe-in' and the Men in Blue will be feared.

It is no surprise that the next three to four games are tough ones (Carolina, Toronto, Atlanta & Jersey), but it is thrilling to see Carolina dropped eight goals to Buffalo ending with a 1-8 final score tonight. May their humiliation bleed over this weekend to Monday against The Blueshirts.

See you at The Garden at 7pm on Monday - NY Rangers vs Carolina Hurricanes.

I feel like I'm "Al-Renney' there!

This site/blog is not affiliated with the New York Rangers or The National Hockey League in any manner whatsoever. Some photos on this site are used w/out permission but are hosted on the blogger server, therefore not interfering with the profit or bandwidth of the original owner. If you are the owner of a specific image that we have used in our blog , please email me at to have it removed - we will gladly remove it immediately.

If you have a hockey blog/website and would like to place a link on our site, please contact me & we can do a link exchange (the best way to get more traffic to our blogs).

Any offer of 'tickets at cost' is exactly that -- I have season tickets and will sell them for what I paid --- so no mark-ups.

The Dark Ranger is a not-for-profit site, not officially, but we derive no income at all from anything on this site; in fact, DARK at his own expense enjoys the freedom of having no sponsors and speaking his f*cking mind.